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Are shallow lakes better for fishing?

WILLMAR -- Lakes come in many shapes, size and classifications.

Prairie lake, glacial lake, deep lake, shallow lake. The list goes on and on.

Shallow lakes hold anglers fancies at the start of the fishing season because they seem to be more active than others.

So what is a shallow lake?

"Most of the shallow lake classifications are basins that are 15 feet in depth or less," said Bruce Gilbertson, manager of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Fisheries office in Spicer.

But he also noted that it depends on who you talk to. Just like beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

"Long Lake near Willmar, Willmar and Foot Lakes, Wakanda. They are considered shallow lakes," Gilbertson went on to say. "There are others that people would consider a wetland. We have shallow lakes that are aerated and do produce fishing, and others that have more intensive kinds of management on them. Some of it drives the perceptions of people."

So what makes shallow lakes a better bet?

With less mass to penetrate, shallower water heats up quicker and gets the activity moving.

"As things warm up, the biological activities pick up," Gilbertson said. "Things progress a little quicker into early summer."

On the other end, deeper lakes always tend to be slower on the draw.

"You look a volume. When you look at many of our shallower lakes, dark bottom and shallower will warm up quickly," Gilbertson said. "Eagle Lake, Henderson, George, Long Lake by Hawick are little more bowl shape and deeper. It takes a lot more energy to warm that body of water."

But as quick as they warm up, they can also lose that energy just as fast. Depending on the weather, Gilbertson said about two weeks after the fishing opener, the deeper lakes start to become more popular with anglers. The deeper water can hold more energy, which means that the water stays warmer longer and can withstand some early-season cold snaps that plague shallow lakes.

By summer, deeper lakes can develop temperature gradients, which means there are differences in warm and cold the deeper it gets. Fish tend to head for the cooler waters in the summer.

But as fall arrives, the situations reverses. Fall fishing on shallower lakes will get "hot" for a short period of time before it becomes a little too cold for activity.

Regardless of how much information is digested, sometimes its just about luck. If one spot doesn't work, try another. Shallow, deep, prairie, glacial, they all contain fish and we all want to catch them.